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Seven Deadly Sins of Freelance Writing 

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Published on: 29 Dec 2020

Freelancing isn’t a cakewalk, and all the elements of this career path point to this. It has responsibilities equivalent to entrepreneurship. With the rise in remote working gigs, this sector saw a surge in freelance writing jobs. But ever wondered why only a handful of new freelance writers get high paying clients?

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As lucrative as it seems, freelancing comes with immense freedom and making mistakes becomes easier in such a setting. Clients may pull the plug, or projects may get cancelled. Even a single blunder can damage your reputation or potentially harm your business. 
 It may seem like you have it all under control, but that six-digit income may still be a far-fetched dream. Worry not! Slip-ups are inevitable during entry days. With every passing day, you become a better freelance writer or copywriter alongside learn to handle clients and collaborate with other freelancers. Here are seven deadly freelance writing pitfalls to avoid.

Common Mistakes to Avoid in Freelance Writing

1. You aren’t too good with deadlines

Freelance Writing Mistake - You aren’t too good with deadlines

What’s your final goal as a freelance writer?  To land up good high paying projects and earn as many referrals as possible. Right? It is possible only when you build trust and a reputation for timely project deliverance. 
The crux of your relationship with your client is dependent upon trust. This trust is earned with quality work delivered on time. If you cannot deliver on time, it poorly reflects your professionalism, work ethic, managerial abilities and competency. However, it is not a big deal if you are only slightly over the deadline. But, if this becomes a habit, it will impact your freelance writing business in the long run. 
Even if you are charging per word or per project, make it a practice to strict to the promised deadlines. 
More times than not,  you may encounter clients with lofty expectations and artificial deadlines. In such situations, it is your responsibility to manage, adjust and define targets. Another idea is to work with a contingency plan in place. Be prepared for uncertainties the future may hold and schedule a target date accordingly. 

2. You aren’t making much noise 

Freelance Writing Mistake - You are not making much noise

The golden rule of successful freelancing is Marketing, Marketing and some more Marketing. 
Picture a scenario where someone is working in isolation. Now imagine that they don’t have a strong social media standing, an online reputation or a referral network. Do you think a word about this writer will travel to hiring agencies, freelancing communities or prospective clients? Definitely not. Therefore, it is needed that you make some noise in the market to make your presence felt. It is a waste of effort to expect someone to magically appear before you with a gig. 

To show your presence, focus on marketing your freelancing services.

Author bios, work samples, endorsements and referrals are all just perfect for this. 
Choose the write platforms like Upwork, and Fiverr to your advantage. 
Writers nowadays are extensively using social media, online writing forums and groups like:

 Also, don’t forget to become a member of LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook groups like:

Drop links to your writing portfolios or blogging website.
You can also brand your services. Go knee-deep into how to brand your business and gain maximum exposure. 

3. Taking criticism to heart 

Freelance Writing Mistake - Criticism to heart

All domains are prone to criticism. Those who take it in their stride improve and make prolific progress. The incapacity to deal with a complaint is a major entrepreneurial mistake and a severe freelancing mistake to avoid. 
Since art (like writing) is highly subjective, you may be subject to criticism. Sometimes your clients may not approve of your website copywriting, other times, and they may dislike an entire blog. How do you deal with it as a freelance writer? 
Firstly develop thick skin. After this, understand that you are able to produce work as per client requirements and instructions. Sometimes you can try to put forward a better proposal and find a way to improve the result. Other times, it is wise to adjust to their requirements simply.  Thirdly, take criticism as an opportunity to refine yourself. 
As a freelancer, you may come across all kinds of clients, some with more professionalism and humanity than others. Similarly, their feedback and criticism will vary and may not even be useful. In such scenarios, you learn to filter and gather what’s necessary. 
Regular meditation and doing some kind of workout is a preferred practice by freelancers worldwide. It helps to improve productivity and become more tolerant. Use apps like Headspace and Calm for your daily dose of musing and contemplation. 

4. Behaving in an unprofessional manner

Freelance Writing Mistake - Behaving in unprofessional manner

Apart from a casual dress code, there are many perks to being a freelance writer—the absence of a manager and strictly no obligation to adhere to corporate rules. In such a scenario, you are likely to behave unprofessionally with your clients. 
Being too cold or too friendly can be a fatal mistake. Act as per your role and develop a relationship with boundaries. Oversharing is a big mistake. Your client is certainly uninterested in knowing what you did over the weekend or your review of the new series you started watching. 
It goes for all freelancers without saying- act as per your position to seem worthy of the fee you charge.  

5. Inability to follow instructions and guidelines

Freelance Writing Mistake - Inability to follow instructions and guidelines

Out of a sea with millions of fish (nearly 2 million in the UK freelance market), a client took the pain to find, filter and approach you for your services.  In this case, your inability to understand and follow instructions will be a bummer. It will show that you are lazy, incompetent and ignorant. 
When given a deadline, editorial instructions, or outline, your client expects you to follow them diligently. Sometimes it may be regarding the language or tone. Other times client may want something totally niche stricken. Since your clientele demands professional quality work from an expert like you, you must deliver. For this:

  • Read the instruction guidelines carefully and promptly ask for clarifications on any front (if needed). 
  • Have total clarity of the project before beginning. 
  • Make visible sticky notes as reminders.

The immense leverage you have while freelance writing is working on projects, having a learning opportunity, and gaining a personal reputation in the market. In this state, timely deliverance, the prowess to follow instruction and adapt is the biggest selling point. 

6. Failure to give a creative output

Freelance Writing Mistake - Failure to give a creative output

You want fun and creative projects while your clients wish for someone to realise their vision in the artsiest way. That’s a combination better than peanut butter and jelly. This collaboration has the potential to cross benchmarks and produce something unique. What’s stopping you? Get your creative juices flowing, bring freshness to an idea and suggest ways to accentuate a project at hand. 
A habit of all successful freelancers is to go the extra mile to make their client’s life better. Therefore, don’t shy away from proposing an idea or an alternate approach. 
In a competitive market, you have to be more than an ordinary Tom, Dick and Harry. Do all that you are expected to, and then look beyond core services. This will show extra effort on your part.  

7. Leaving no room to learn from mistakes and upskilling

Freelance Writing Mistake - Leaving no room to learn from mistakes

You may be the best writer or produce the wittiest website copies. But tomorrow, someone better will appear on the scene and snatch your clients. Ouch! That’s every freelancer’s nightmare. 
Shake yourself back to reality and continuously up your game by finding ways to upskill and learn something new. 
Perfect yourself in one niche and then expand your horizons bit by bit. Interact with other writers, learn from them and try writing something totally out of your comfort zone. 
Additionally, regularly monitor your progress and learn from any mistakes you make on the way. Like any other job/profession, this is where being better than others matters. 

Now that you know what mistakes not to make as freelancers, how about replacing them with better and constructive ways? While there are plenty of "tips" on how to sky-rocket your freelance career, it's best to take genuine advice from those in the domain. Give KoolStories a try to connect with top rated freelance writers to showcase your works, exchange knowledge, gain visibility and projects easily. 


What are the biggest mistakes freelancers make?

There is a lot that can go wrong when you aren’t aware of how to go about freelancing. From managing clients to managing your finances, here are all the mistakes to avoid as a freelancer:

1.Don’t get into the market unplanned and define goals for your freelance career.
2.Kickstart your full-time freelance career when you know its the right time.
3.Skipping the contract or a written binding agreement.
4.The absence of a system is problematic as it causes chaos and charging too little or too much.

What could be the disadvantages of freelancing?

Along with the freedom to pursue your interests and the power to be your boss, there are certain disadvantages to pursuing a full-time freelance career. The most common ones include:

1.Lack of company benefits
2.An unstable income and varying workload
3.Lack of job security
4.Detachment from company life and a feeling of isolation
5.Self-funding and putting in initial investment
6.Added responsibilities of managing the entire business along with client development

Should freelancers work for free?

It can be a good learning experience, to do freelance work for free. Moreover, doing unpaid freelancing is an open playground for those trying to get into the freelance domain. It is also valuable for getting the exposure you deserve. But more often than not, professional freelancers avoid providing their services for free because they don’t want to sell themselves short. So, deciding on whether or not you should do freelance for free is a personal choice depending on your workload and only if it adds value to your business.

How a freelancer can enhance his/her skill?

If you work full-time or are self-employed, the desire to upskill and add to your skillset will always give your career the necessary growth. To enhance your freelance skills, you can adopt one or all of the following steps:

1.Dive deeper into your niche and find your strong suit.
2.Broaden your horizons by delving into diverse domains and enhancing your portfolio.
3.Be open to new opportunities and type of work.
4.Learn under the guidance of a mentor.

What do you think is most important in order to succeed as a freelancer?

To succeed as a professional freelancer, you will need to develop a specific set of capabilities which add to your:

1.Communication skills
2.Stress management skills
3.Problem-solving skills
4.Organizational skills
5.Teamwork skills

Do freelancers make good money?

According to 2020 freelancer research data, freelancers in the U.S earn an average hourly rate of $20. And those working in web/mobile development, marketing, legal, accounting, and other skilled services earn an even higher $28/hour average wage.

Is freelancing a good career option?

Freelancing is not just getting online on sites and starting doing projects. It requires much more than your skills to reach the target and goals. So, it comes with its own taste of good and bad!